Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sixth of the Sixth

I was tagged by my friend Steviewren over at "A Little Birdie Told Me So" to post the sixth photo in my sixth photo folder and tell the story.

I discovered Stevewren's blog on a treasure hunt I once went on --searching online for something, one treasure sends you on the road to the next; I'm sure you know what I mean. I stumbled upon one artsy woman's blog, and by clicking on the links of those who commented, there opened up a whole world of wonderful, intelligent, creative women who regularly post inspiring things on their blogs. Steviewren is a talented artist, clever and ironic, soon to be discovered I'm sure.

Here is the sixth photo from my sixth folder:
Here I am in Santa Rosa, the car all packed up for the trip home, April last year. My son and I were about to drive home after being stuck in Santa Rosa for eight days as he recovered from his eye surgery.

It was a grueling time, staying in a motel room with a teenager in misery and pain. The only thing that fueled me for my job as nurse and cheerleader was bad motel-room coffee. The whole time I was there, I longed for Starbucks, but my own desires were secondary to keeping my boy comfortable and cheered.

So here I am, getting ready for the three-hour drive home. The happy look on my face is extreme relief at getting to leave finally and happiness at the long-awaited taste of a Starbucks Iced Mocha.

I took this picture myself because the relief I felt was so remarkable I wanted to document it!

According to Steviewren, these are the Rules of the Game:
1. Pick the 6th picture in your 6th folder.
2. Post that picture on your blog and the story that goes along with the picture.

3. Tag 6 other people that you know or don’t know to do the same thing and leave a comment on their blog or an e-mail letting them know you chose them.
Here are the six people I want to tag, and as Steviewren said, "Play along only if you want to."

Lucy at Shattered Whispers
Jack at Rambling Jack's Laboratory
Beachcomber at A Beachcomber's Blog
Ernie at Ernie's Place
Kristen at Blooms of Creation
Kristabel at Chocolate Covered Xanax

Goth RV Rodeo

Too much rodeo for these RVs (photo from blogs.tampabay.com "A Dover RV Dealer's Display")

Last night I dreamed there was horrible, undefinable music coming from my neighbor's house. In the dream, there were kids arriving as if for a party, kids dressed in black vaguely reminiscent of goth or emo.

I wondered if the parents were out of town or what, wondered if things were going to get out of control later or what.

Then all of a sudden I saw floodlights in the neighbor's backyard, and I looked out the window. There was a huge crowd at the fence and a huge RV going around in circles inside the perimeter of the yard, at top speed.

This looked so unsafe that the danger might even pour over into my yard if that driver of the RV lost control. So I called the police and said, "My neighbors are having a rodeo!"

If you are a Freudian psychoanalyst, please don't give this another thought.
Emo kids
Goth kids

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fringe

What are the chances I'd be watching episodes of the creepy X-Files-esque Fox series "Fringe" online while I make fringe for my afghan? I'm being haunted by fringe.

Healing Garden Part II

As promised, here are the images from our beautiful day in the garden. This is my son hard at work mulching the newly pruned fruit trees.
Here is the master gardener himself, a seriously cool guy and a fountain of information about making things grow.
I got dirty and wet from the knees down due to my hands-on approach.
The garden is full of these little guys.
Look at their incredible camouflage.
Mysterious, work-related bruise on my arm.
Gorgeous collard greens.
You cut out the stem.
Put them in a pan with broth. Cover and steam for just a few minutes.
Yum.
Cornbread in the making.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Healing Garden Part I

I wanted to post some pics for you guys of the wonderful garden where my son and I have been working lately. But I can't find the cord that goes between my camera and my computer, darn it!

I am convinced, with good reason, that this is a healing garden. We show up, we work hard, we admire nature, we go home, we eat some of the earth's bounty then we sleep like babies.

We ate collard greens again last night, only this time I did them up right, with cornbread and black-eyed peas. Next we're going to eat this spaghetti squash if I can figure out how to prepare it. Any suggestions?

While we satisfy the terms of my son's "diversion" by working in this garden, we also have a chance to heal up some of the damage the Eureka Police did to my son's estimation of authority and the so-called justice system. The ex-cop-turned-master-gardener that we're working for tells us stories about his days on the force, demonstrating with every story that police officers have hearts and souls after all.

Yesterday, I worked hard. It was my job to hoe the weeds immediately around the plants. It was also my job to turn the compost over, sort of stir it up with a pitch fork.

The compost is a miraculous thing, a mountain of grass clippings, vegetables, all the coffee grounds from Sutters Mudd coffee shop and grapeskins from some nearby winery. When you turn the top layer, steam rises up from it. If you put your hand on it, it's as warm as a person. It's a living thing.

Now, I already have strong legs from my years tromping around HSU -- also known as Hills and Stairs University -- but my upper body is a different story. So I ache today, in my abs mostly. I also have several mysterious bruises on my body and a blister on my hand. My son must feel the same, but he hasn't said anything.

I'm not complaining; I am filled to the brim with satisfaction and gratitude.

P.S. I'll post pictures later.
Same garden, last September. This was the exact moment I fell in love with this garden. This photo ran in the Press. Our gardener friend is going to help me plant a wall of sunflowers on my back fence this coming summer.
Same garden, last October, at the big corn harvest barbecue.
Lovely food from the garden last October. I picked the tomatoes, and I made those baked beans. Everything was so gorgeous and delicious. It will be even more enjoyable this coming fall when my son and I will have contributed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stars for a Diamond

One of these days I'll write a whole post about the late Townes Van Zandt. I'm in love with his poetry, in love with his heart, his soul, his sad cowboy voice and his dark eyes. He was the king of the mixed metaphor, but I don't care. He speaks to my soul.

For now, here are some lyrics that tug at my heart today:
I'll kindle my fires with the words I can't send you,
And the roads I can't follow and the songs I can't sing.
I'll wander alone on the sleigh bells of winter
With the stars for a diamond and the world for a ring.
--from "The Catfish Song"
Texas gets a bad rap sometimes, but remember Texas produced Townes Van Zandt, Buddy Holly, Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin ... and me.


And here is a link to a video of Townes singing "The Catfish Song."
The Catfish Song

Way down at the bottom of that dirty old river,
Down where the reeds and the catfish play,
There lies a dream as soft as the water,
There lies a bluebird that's flown away.

To meet is like springtime, and to love's like the summer.
Her brown eyes shone for nobody but me.
But in autumn forever the fool come a-falling
And the rain turned to freezing inside of me.

I'll kindle my fires with the words I can't send you,
And the roads I can't follow and the songs I can't sing.
I'll wander alone on the sleigh bells of winter
With the stars for a diamond and the world for a ring.

Well, all you young ladies who dream of tomorrow,
While you're listening, these words will I say:
Cling to today with its joy and its sorrow.
You'll need all your memories when youth melts away.

The angel of springtime he rides down the south wind.
The angel of summer, he does just the same.
The angel of autumn, she's blue and she's golden.
And the angel of winter won't remember your name.

Down at the bottom of that dirty old river,
Down where the reeds and the catfish play,
There lies a dream as soft as the water.
There lies a bluebird that's flown away.
Oh there lies a bluebird that's flown away.

Post Script (added Jan. 28 3:40 p.m.)
I found out that Townes left behind a musical son, J.T., who plays his father's songs and sings occasionally onstage. Here is J.T. Van Zandt singing, "Nothin." All the gentleness, without all the pain.
J.T. Van Zandt

Whether or Not You Ever Show Up


It was my dream to find a man to take care of me. Like a princess, deep inside, that's what I wanted.

But as I discovered, the trouble with that is: when you allow someone to take care of you, they also want to control you. Taking care of you and controlling you are the two sides of that coin.

This has been on my mind lately, as I face being single again. If I ever start looking again, I won't be looking for the same thing at all.

Ani di Franco sings about this in her song, "Not a Pretty Girl."

I am not a pretty girl.
That is not what I do.
I ain't no damsel in distress,
And I don't need to be rescued.

So put me down, punk.
Maybe you'd prefer a maiden fair.
Isn't there a kitten
Stuck up a tree somewhere?

I am not an angry girl,
But it seems like I've got everyone fooled.
Every time I say something they find hard to hear,
They chalk it up to my anger,
Never to their own fear.

Imagine you're a girl,
Just trying to finally come clean
Knowing full well they'd prefer you were dirty
And smiling.

Well, I am sorry
I am not a maiden fair,
And I am not a kitten
Stuck up a tree somewhere.

Generally my generation
Wouldn't be caught dead working for the man.
And generally I agree with them,
But the trouble is
You have to have yourself an alternate plan.

I have earned my disillusionment.
I have been working all of my life.
I am a patriot.
I have been fighting the good fight.

What if there are no damsels in distress?
What if I knew that and I called your bluff?
Don't you think every kitten
Figures out how to get down,
Whether or not you ever show up?

I am not a pretty girl.
I don't want to be a pretty girl.
No, I want to be more than a pretty girl.
Ani Difranco, obviously much more than a pretty girl.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mixed Drinks

Not a good combo for me
I have reached the conclusion that alcohol doesn't like me anymore.

I went out last night with the stated intention of drinking. I met up with a buddy of mine who likes to drink beer, and I had the full intention of drinking lots of beers and blowing lots of hot air like all the people in the brewery always seem to be having such a great time doing.

Well the beer, the food and the conversation were great. My friend is a world traveler who had just returned from Brazil, so I knew he'd have adventure stories.

And he did. For example, did you know that in Brazilian nightclubs, all you need to know how to say in Portuguese is "My name is..." and "What's your name?" and then the kissing starts? Just like that. Brazilian nightclubs are just giant hook-up sites, bursting with interested single people. Hmmm.

If we had ended the evening there, everything probably would have been ok.

But we had the bright idea to head over the Arcata and do the Plaza crawl. Honestly, I felt like an anthropologist in a strange land, observing the unusual behavior of exotic natives.

For one thing, everyone in the Arcata bars on a Friday night must have just celebrated their 21st birthdays last week. They were babies. They looked 12.

My friend's roommate joined us there, and I felt happy to be hanging out with these two nice guys. And now, with the presence of a sober driver, I switched to hard liquor.

I tried a new thing: Red Bull as a mixer. This didn't exist back in the dinosaur days when I drank in bars. Judging from the reaction of my body and mind, the idea behind mixing your downer (alcohol) with an upper (taurine) must be that your body metabolizes the alcohol faster, perhaps more effectively.

This was a mistake.

It took all my concentration to maintain my dignity on the tall heels of my black boots as we walked back to the car. Back at home, I wasn't well (I say euphemistically) and this morning, I was even less well.

Everything in life is a trade off, according to gift theory. And the pleasure of drinking alcohol is not worth the misery of a hangover.

Unexpected Quarter


The strangest thing happened after dinner Thursday. I got an email from my dad that simply said "Wanna use me as a sounding board?"

In our family history, it is traditionally my mom I talk to when I call their house in Texas. My dad and I rarely talk.

I've had conversations like this: I call, and he answers the phone. "Hi, Daddy..." I say, ready to chat. "Well, hello," he says warmly, "Hold on, I'll get your mother." And the phone drops.

Through all the trials of the last year and especially the last couple of months, I have hardly called my parents at all, because I don't want to worry my mother.

It's really hard to fake a bright chipper attitude with her; she is sharply attuned to the slightest change in my voice.

Seriously, she knows I'm sick even before I do. I'll call her, and she'll say sharply, "Are you feeling ok?" I assure her I'm fine, then an hour after the phone call, I'm blowing my nose and noticing the first scratches of a sore throat.

I try to call her primarily when I have good news to announce, an accomplishment of some kind, so she can feel proud of me and my son and rest assured that we're happy and successful. Those moments have been rare lately.

I did finally talk to her last week, and of course I worried her. And she must have talked to my dad.

It was a surprise to hear from him. I was in a good mood when I received his concise little message, after that good day teaching class and gardening with my son. I didn't have anything to complain about at that precise moment, and wasn't sure I wanted to resume the endless cycle of thinking and worrying.

But I thought, what the heck? And I wrote the whole grisly story out for my dad to read, about the break-up of my marriage, my worries about my son, and my worries about finishing school and keeping a roof over our heads.

He wrote back a thoughtful reply and asked questions that pulled more and more thoughts and feelings out of me. He had good practical suggestions, humor, empathy.

It was a long exchange of correspondence that lasted for a couple of days. It was so helpful, and for once I felt like I wasn't all alone in the world. It brings tears to my eyes to think about it now.

I feel like the sun is coming out after a long, long winter.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Day

I did it!

I lived through the teaching experience this morning.

College classroom, 30 expectant, intelligent individuals seated in rows, and me standing in the front of the room, talking, guiding, winging it.

I think I did ok, I really do. Floating around in my head was all of chapter one, a linguistic overview. But instead of a structured lecture, I let them talk in groups of two or three about the results of their linguistic autobiographies. When we came back together, I let the results of their discussions segue into each of the points I wanted to tell them about. It was smooth, and the time flew by.

Teaching is kind of exhilarating!
A Close Encounter with Benevolent Mother Nature
Slug eggs. Ew! (from Wikipedia)
Then, in the afternoon my son and I went to work in the community garden in McKinleyville for a couple of hours. My son planted two fruit trees and weeded a row of strawberries. I got lessons on pruning roses and fruit trees from a master gardener.

We saw steam rising up from the composting grass clippings and touched its amazing warmth. We encountered earthworms, grubs, centipedes and slug eggs! We caught a bright green tree frog. We heard tree frogs and the distant sea. We brought home fresh collards to have with dinner.

I hope he learns to love this place, because I certainly do.

Something Delicious

Finally, I want to recommend to you, if you haven't already tried it, Papa Murphy's Mediterranean De-lite Pizza. It has a super-thin crust like a cracker, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, feta cheese and way too much garlic (yum!). Seriously delicious for nights when you're too tired to make dinner.

P.S. Sorry to make you think of slug eggs and pizza in the space of a minute. Are you ok?

Distant Roar

Mad River Beach - Photo by Jack Durham
I have a dilemma, and I need to call on the expertise of my blogger friends who may, perhaps, have lived near the ocean longer than I have. This is an unsolved mystery that literally keeps me up at night.

I sleep next to a west-facing window. 2000 feet away is Central Avenue, and beyond that Highway 101. Beyond that is the Mad River. And almost two miles away is the Pacific Ocean.

At night, when I am experiencing my usual insomnia, I lie awake and listen to an endless distant roar. It ebbs and flows a tiny bit (cars on Central) but it never stops. I never notice it in the daytime, but at night there it is.

Is it possible that I am hearing the ocean from my bed at night?

It's the vast ocean over there, not the Bay. Can waves pounding the shore be heard from almost two miles away?

Other insomniacs would pay good money for recordings of this, yet it keeps me up. Not because of the sound; if it's the ocean, I am going to be delighted, lulled. What keeps me up is not knowing what it is.
Mad River - Photo J. Patrick Cudahy, from North Coast Journal
Hwy. 101, not exactly a jam-packed freeway, especially at night. Photo from West Coast Roads

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jan. 20, 2009: A Hopeful Day

Photo from itn.co.uk
We watched the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama on the big screen in class today.

These ceremonies have occurred many times in my lifetime, but this is the first time I feel connected to it, the first time in my life that I felt as if my voice, my vote, had anything at all to do with what went on in the distant land of Washington, D.C.

The aspects of the ceremony that are meant to be moving and meaningful -- the parts that usually leave me cold with the awareness of hypocrisy that offends me to my core -- those things moved me today: "My Country 'Tis of Thee," the benedictions, the happy crowd, the proud First Lady.

I felt the pinprick of tears in my eyes and a swell of something in my chest; could this unfamiliar sensation be . . . patriotism?

I have added President Barack Obama to my prayers. Our country is in a real mess, and I pray he can lead us through it with grace and dignity. In other words, I hope we can have some grace and dignity, pull out of our economic crisis, extricate ourselves from this war and come up with real solutions for the injustices of the world. In short, start living up to some of the Founders' ideals:
". . . a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . ."
--from the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

I hope I don't start waving flags any time soon; this is really weird. I may have to rethink my whole expat, retirement-in-Sweden fantasy.

Cautionary Tales


We have reached a hastier and superficial rhythm,
now that we believe we are in touch
with a greater amount of people,
more people,
more countries.
This is the illusion which might cheat us of
being
in touch deeply
with the one breathing right next to us.

The dangerous time
when mechanical voices, radios, telephone,
take the place of human intimacies,

and the concept of
being in touch with millions
brings a greater and greater poverty
in intimacy and human vision.

--Anais Nin, in 1972


Immersion

In a new development, it appears I am going to be teaching Introduction to Language Analysis all by myself for the next two weeks.

Very sadly, my professor lost her elderly mother over the weekend and has to go out of state to take care of everything. Somehow, even though her eyes were swollen from crying, she made it through today's introductory lecture.

As her friend, I have to rise to this occasion even though deep inside I'm unsure of myself. I know the subject well, as long as I refresh myself by rereading the text. It's the teaching and presenting part that scares me some. But I don't want her to have to worry about this while she's away.

The class is in the bright, shiny, newly-remodeled building. It feels totally different there, than in Founder's Hall where nearly all my classes have taken place. Founder's, while beautiful in its own way, is a little funky and worse for wear.

There are 30 students and two on a waiting list. They are all very young, under 25, but otherwise they seem fairly diverse. A couple of them are seniors, even though this class is lower division. For at least three of them, English is a second language.

Most are English majors, but there are also reps from other (albeit humanities) disciplines, such as religious studies, anthropology, and art. Even among the English majors, there are reps from all three pathways: Literary Studies, Creative Writing, and Teaching Language Arts; these indicate pretty different personalities, believe it or not. I don't know if any of them are minoring in Linguistics, but probably so.

Usually the most challenging students to deal with in a Linguistics class are the budding prescriptive grammarians, the ones who are all about "should" and "supposed to," and who want to know the rules so they can wield them like weapons of oppression, usually on their own students someday. I hope there aren't any of those in the class, but you never know.

That attitude is always a barrier to their arrival at this understanding: Linguistics takes language as the subject of its study, like scientists study physics--not in order to demand that physics comply with science's rules, but to describe physics in order to understand it.

Their assignment tonight is to write a Linguistic Autobiography, a short narrative about their own relationship to language. I remember when I had to do this assignment, I wrote about moving from Texas to California at age 13 and having to ditch my Southern dialect in order to fit in. However, it meant I no longer fit in with my family. And now, you only hear my Southern dialect when I'm drinking alcohol, getting in an argument, comforting a child or talking to my mother.

Our textbook is How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction by Anne Curzan. Their reading for Thursday is chapter one, "What is Language?" And I have to engage them for 80 minutes about that Thursday. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 19, 2009

What It Takes

Tools of my trade:
AP Manual of Style, laptop, reading glasses, water and
Everlasting Gobstoppers.

Here is what it takes to get through a deadline day, a workday that lasts (for me) from 11 a.m. until midnight and sometimes much later. Last night I got done at midnight. I should mention that my boss, Jack, is still working away when I leave.

My Typical Workday
Mack Press Office Building.
If I've gone to church that morning, I arrive to work refreshed and humming under my breath as I climb the dark stairs to our little office with its sloping ceiling. I tidy up my desk first thing, because Jack often uses its wide open space for projects during the week, and I like to start fresh.

Mapping it Out
Kind of like this
I erase last week's planning board and create a new chart of stories for the latest issue. There is a column for the "slug" (one-word title for the story) and columns for checking whether the story is in (If it isn't, it means I or Jack still has to write it), whether it has been edited and whether it's been placed into the layout. Jack didn't use this system before I arrived, but I like to be able to look up and get a visual representation of our progress. And it feels good to check things off.

Shooting the Breeze
First we dress like cowboys
After this is done, Jack and I always spend an inordinate amount of time laughing, talking and catching up. He is one of the funniest people I know, a kindred spirit, and his lively personality is what make the long hours ahead enjoyable.

My Morale Boosted
The things I need
Then he asks me, "Do you need anything?" It is, apparently, part of my compensation in this job that I get all my earthly needs met while I work. Jack runs out frequently for coffee, food, water and sugar, adjusts the temperature of the office, and pays attention to my sighs, which apparently indicate frustration with whatever I'm working on. In short, I feel very valued while I'm at work.

When Jack hands me one of his own stories to edit, he says, "Will you work your magic on this?" It's nice to feel needed and to feel as if I'm good at something.

My Many Hats
I wear this one when working on the the senior news column
There are so many job titles in the great world of newspaper editing: managing editor, city editor, copy editor, line editor, editor-in-chief. Imagine the luxury of having only one of these jobs. My job title at the McKinleyville Press is Assistant Editor. What does that mean? It means I take off one hat and put on another about 10 times in the course of a single work shift.

Young and Old
Optical illusion, do you see young or old?
I type in one column sent in to us every week by a little old lady who writes it by hand. I interpret her spidery little-old-lady handwriting, make the fragments into full sentences, organize it and add transitions, while preserving its comfortable, grandmotherly tone.

Similarly, some teenage students send us stories, and it is my job to reorganize their work so that readers get the basic information, while still preserving the charming, schoolgirlish tones of the writing. These "developing writers" are my domain because it gives me pleasure to work with their ideas. One is very, very young and has a city-girl-in-the-country approach. Another is a high school drama student who buries her facts under dozens of adjectives, adverbs and modifiers, with everything magnified to mythical proportions. Remember being like that? I do.

I type in the week's birth announcements and marvel aloud at the interesting, ponderous names these tiny new humans have been given. Stories rise off the page at me from every line: new life, changed lives. Recently, I convinced my boss we should add a note of welcome and congratulations to the end of the plain list of new arrivals.

My most gentle editing is on obituaries. I repair mistakes and don't allow any indignities to sneak in. I'm aware these are tributes to loved ones. I'm aware that, like birth announcements, these are likely to be clipped out and kept until the newsprint turns yellow, pasted into a scrapbook perhaps, read again and again. Like with birth announcements, whole stories unfold before me. Lives well lived, lives cut short, lives that touched others, lists of accomplishments and of names of survivors whose hearts now ache with loss.

Advocating for the Reader
He is my muse.
Press releases, and I use the term loosely, come in from all parts, written by all sorts of people in all sorts of ways. I have to rework them so that readers get the who-what-when, etc. Sometimes all I have to work with is a poster with a couple of facts on it.

I sometimes feel impatient with the inconsistencies of the writing, but in working with these press releases, I think of myself as the Readers' Advocate. What does the reader want to know about? What information will readers need? The readers' needs are my guiding principles--those and the AP Manual of Style. So I rework things as much as necessary in service to our readers.

Sighing and Grumbling
You don't want to piss me off
Then come the stories from reporters and regular columnists. This is where the sighing happens usually, and the grumbling.

I have to do a lot of fact-checking. How in the world did fact-checkers work without the internet? I'm good at this part and enjoy it in a strange way. It involves research, which I like. During the course of this phase of my work shift, I become temporarily versed on all sorts of things, from tsunamis to the Brown Act.

I grumble about the necessity to apply AP style to the work of people who should already know it. I grumble about grammatical things, like subordination of ideas and clauses. I grumble about bias, objectivity, relevance, and the lack of front-loaded, reader-based prose.

My boss listens to the police-radio scanner and studiously ignores me.

Our Theme Song
The barking radio scanner is the soundtrack for our work. We hear firefighters, ambulances and deputies getting dispatched for fires, accidents, disturbances and domestic violence. Last night there were a lot of drunk drivers in McKinleyville. Announcements over the scanner are often followed by loud sirens and honking that drifts in on the night through our open window. The strangest part is that we hear the calls, the beginnings, the alarms, but we rarely find out how the smaller dramas end.

Writing Off the Cuff
What I wish I looked like when I write
Sometimes, I have to write a story, which from reading this blog you might think would be a pleasure. Actually it is an uncomfortable departure from the mindset of editing. It's quite difficult to go from editing to writing, especially if there is a time constraint.

Pick up the McKinleyville Press any time, and you will rarely see my byline on any stories. I'm invisible, but I'm there.

This has actually happened: I am handed an advance copy of a book I've never laid eyes on before, and within an hour or less, I have written a little preview of it. I never know, when I arrive, what or if I will be writing.

When I write, Jack edits me, because no writer in her right mind publishes without an editor. This is why blogging is kind of a wild, risky, renegade activity for a writer.

Really Looking
Last, after all this is done, comes page-proofing. Jack prints out the pages one by one, and I sit down with a pen to mark them up. The headlines and photo cutlines are the trouble spots, where type-os sneak in, so I check them carefully.

It is now that I see the photos for the first time. I fall in love with all the dogs and cats up for adoption at the animal shelter. I smile at the Girl Scouts and the wonderful holiday and community shots my boss has taken during the week: bingo games, quilting circles, trick-or-treaters, visits from Santa, and youthful athletes. These are the heart and soul of a community newspaper. It's fun for readers to see themselves or someone they know in the newspaper.

Until Next Time
When I finish, I tidy my desk, pack away my computer, and try to leave the place nice for the next deadline day.

My boss always sees me to my car, because he is an old-fashioned gentleman, and there is a rowdy bar just across the street, often with drunken revelers still hooting and hollering.

Jack always thanks me for my hard work as I wave goodbye and climb into my car.

See also: Rambling Jack's Laboratory: How we put out the McKinleyville Press

Thanks to all the sites from which I borrowed these fun illustrations.